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Any time that a group enters a foreign habitat it must adapt to be able to thrive in its new environment. When a bird flies to a new home it must learn what it can and cannot eat in that area. The bird must learn what predators it has to avoid and what the climate is in its new environment. When a person moves from one neighborhood to another they have to adjust to the new people. The children must learn the slang that is spoken at the local school. The parents must learn what type of traffic laws are enforced. They must learn what restaurants are good and which are to be avoided. It is so difficult to move from one neighborhood to another, and it is so much harder to transplant oneself from one culture to an entirely new one where everything is new. Dominicans who come to America must cope with learning a new language and a new lifestyle. They are moving from the country in which they were so comfortable to a new one where they are unwelcome and often unhappy. Dominicans in the United States are facing problems, which ultimately lead them to be depressed people. This depression cycles in with their other problems to eventually give them a low quality of living, in a nation which has one of the highest qualities of living of any place in the world.
For a new Dominican immigrant the united states must seem like a scary place, where there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles that need to be quickly dealt with. The first thing that must strike a Dominican who comes to the United States is that they do not speak the language. This problem seems like an obvious one, but it is so simple to take for granted that the people who hear you will understand the words, which are spoken. To come to a new country and try to communicate, and have people stare at you with blank faces, and often looks of scorn, can be devastating. Over time Non English speaking immigrants may become intimidated to speak, in both their native Spanish, and what little broken English they do posses. The distaste and haughtiness, which may have answered their ill-phrased queries, may be more torment then the answer would be able to compensate for. Another problem, a less well-known and acknowledged one, is the racial prejudice, which is present in the United States. Many Dominicans “learn” that they are black only when they set foot in America. Before they were in the United States they didn’t have the designation of being black, or the attached stigma which the designation bears. With the racism that is faced by black people in America, and the inability to speak English fluently it is hard for Dominicans to achieve an adequate level of success. Because of the disadvantages, which are faced upon initially setting foot in the United States, many Dominicans will have an extremely difficult time succeeding.
The new disadvantages and the new culture tend to make Dominicans, who have just entered the United States, cluster together. The Dominicans cluster together in search of a support system, but are often greeted with only the realities of inner city poverty. The average income for a Dominican family is $20, 006 (households). This is well below the national average and it is clearly not enough for people to live well on. One third of the Dominicans living in the United States are living below the poverty line (households). The unemployment rate for Dominicans in the labor force was 17.8% in 1990 and almost half of working age Dominicans in the United States were either unemployed or out of the labor field (households). With these conditions a section composed almost entirely of Dominicans will be a section overrun with poverty and joblessness. These conditions of poverty and joblessness are what have led to some of the predominantly Dominican neighborhoods, such as Washington Heights in New York City, being known as some of the most drug infested neighborhoods in the United States.
The backbone of an immigrant group is generally the neighborhood they live in. The Dominican immigrants who live in the United States lack a supportive backbone. I believe this lack of support is what causes the eventual problems which plagues the United States Dominican population. The neighborhoods, which are inhabited by Dominican immigrants, are mostly drug filled communities. The people who are the most succesful in these communities are the ones who are breaking the law. Growing up, or living in a community where the most succesful people are the ones who break the law teaches people that the law is not there to help them. People see no major problem with breaking the law, since the people who are the most successful and well respected within their communities are the ones who break the law, the most, and most effectively. Because there are such high crime rates within the poor Dominican communities the police are continually on patrol, and acting aggresively. The over aggressive actions of the police feeds into the cycle of criminal activity. He police are viewed as the enemy not as protectors. Commiting a crime can be viewed as striking a blow against the enemy, which includes the government and the police.
The neighborhoods that Dominicans live in usually have substandard schools. The schools are places, which are not used to teach, but more often used as places to keep the children off the streets. The educations provided at the schools within the predominantly Dominican neighborhoods are not college preparatory ones. The schools are overrun with violence, drug use and gang activity. One such school, in Washington Heights, George Washington High School, is known throughout the city as one of the most dangerous schools. It is also notoriously poor, and known for the low quality education.
With the language barrier between the Dominican population and the non-Spanish speaking portion of the united states, the Dominicans living in the united states are practically forced to stay within the language comfortable confines of their own neighborhoods. This means that almost one hundred percent of the Dominican population in the United States lives in a community which is overrun with crime, drugs and poverty. To leave the community is not possible, and to be succesful within the community is a daunting task. This means that most of the Dominican population, living in the united states is bound for failure. In fact based on statistics such as high school graduation and college attendance Dominicans are actually better off in their, much poorer native land, then they are in the United States. In the united states 55% of Dominicans drop out of high school and only 4% graduate college, while in the Dominican Republic 44% drop out of high school and 9% graduate college (Dominicans NY). This seems to indicate that Dominicans are better off in their own, poverty filled country, then they are in the neighborhoods, which they inhabit in the United States.
As I have already detialed the poor living conditions cycle to lead to future poor living conditions, which lead to a low quality of life. The low quality of life, and the inability to improve upon the quality of life leads to depression. Researchers and social psychologists have discovered that as a group Dominicans tend to define themselves, and base their self esteem on how others view them (problems). The socioeconomic deprivations and disadvantages, which Dominicans suffer, lead them to have low self- esteem. The people around them view them as failures and they begin to view themselves as failures as well. People who view themselves as failures are often depressed people, this is no less true for the Dominican population then it is for the general population. It also stands to reason that the Dominican population suffers from a higher rate of depression then the general population does, because of their higher rate of unemployment, and other similar maladys. Another factor leading to depression, especially for women, within the Dominican community, is lack of perceived social support. Many Dominicans believe that they don’t have enough support in their new country. They may feel isolated, or they may simply be homesick, but they feel as though they lack a social structure which supports them, and makes them feel comfortable.
Depression is an affliction which can cripple a person severely. A depressed person is generally less motivated, less happy and, because of their depression they have less bright prospects then a non depressed person.
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